Reading the Bible with your children

I posted a while back about Don’t Wimp Out of Family Devotions. It can be a struggle to find the time to pray and read the Bible together as a family and we need to keep persevering. But in this post I want to talk about reading the Bible with your children as part of a daily routine.

One of the challenges is knowing what to do with them, and finding things that are appropriate for their age. Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve used:

  • Children’s Bibles – this is perhaps the easiest option. We have several different children’s Bibles that we make use of. Not all of them are of the same quality. The Jesus Storybook Bible stands out as one of the best, but variety is good, and we have some others by Lion, Christian Focus, and Crossway.
  • We made our own children’s edition of the book of Matthew, where I summarised each story in a sentence, and the children drew a picture to represent it.
  • I also started to make a “Girl’s Story Bible” for my daughter Lily which attempted to trace through the story of the gospel through the stories of the women in the Bible. It was great fun, and I really should dig it out and finish it off as I only got as far as Rahab.
  • Good News Bible – quite often I just get my 10 year old to read a chapter of the Good News Bible out loud to me. He gets to choose what he reads. He usually picks either a random Psalm or the next bit of Acts which we are working through, having finished Luke last year.
  • Memorisation – I know I’ve blogged about this before, but I want to underscore that your children are capable of memorising short passages of scripture without too much time commitment. Just get them to repeat the passage out loud every night for a month and they will pick it up.
    • I also tried teaching them Martin Luther’s catechism for children. That one didn’t work out too well.
  • Children’s Bible Reading Notes – We’ve used Pens and Topz from CWR. Sometimes I feel these can be a little over-simplified, but the children really enjoy them.
  • I’ve read a few story books with Christian themes – the Narnia series being the obvious example. I’d like to try some of the Patricia M St.John books on them at some time. Sadly, I don’t know of many up to date examples of Christian authors writing similar books. Do let me know in the comments if you know of any.
    • I also want to get hold of some of the Christian “graphic novels” I have seen advertised recently (e.g. this one on Martin Luther or the Action Bible) as I think my 10 year old will love them. Has anyone given these a go?

Please don’t interpret this as me saying I heroically do some amazing devotional time every night with every child individually without fail. Sometimes it falls by the wayside. Sometimes we do it but it is horribly rushed. Sometimes they pay no attention at all.

But ultimately, I think that, as with family devotions, the important thing is just to ‘do something’ and ‘stick at it’, (as Gary Boal wisely pointed out in the comments last time). Find what works for you, and be on the lookout for creative ideas. When you miss a day (or a week or a month), don’t feel guilty or discouraged, just get going again. And tell me in the comments what you’ve found that works.

Don’t Wimp Out of Family Devotions

I recognise that many readers of this blog won’t be at the same stage of life as me, with four young children (ages 9, 7, 4, and 1 after a recent round of birthdays), but I hope you’ll bear with me for a post on “family devotions”.

It’s Hard

Recently Matt Hosier posted a book review of “Gospel Powered Parenting” in which he challenged fathers not to “wimp out” of doing family devotions just because they are hard. It was a timely reminder for me, since I have allowed our family worship to become sporadic, and so we have upped the frequency of them again. Just so no one reading this has a romanticised idea of what our family devotions are like, the main challenges I face are…

  • fights and arguments (seem to break out as soon as I start reading from the Bible!)
  • eagerness to leave the table (children eating their dinner in 30 seconds flat so they can get back to doing what they were doing before dinner)
  • constant interruptions (needing the toilet, spilling drinks, falling off chairs, asking questions in the middle of prayers)
  • lack of concentration (ever felt like you’re talking to yourself? welcome to family devotions)


I think mealtimes make sense since the whole family is gathered. We always eat together as a family in the evening (breakfasts are a little more chaotic), and so I try to fit something in after we have eaten. Between courses is a good idea, as there is an incentive for everyone to stay at the table. You can even use pudding as a bribe to behave during devotions, but I’m not sure how “gospel-centred” that approach is.


My main approach has usually been to read a few verses of Scripture, make a few comments on it, suggest a topic for prayer, and then encourage everyone to pray briefly. Occasionally, my children’s prayers will indicate that they took something in, which is always encouraging. Also, we sometimes get into discussion, as the Bible reading raises questions. But don’t expect the questions to be directly related to the topic you wanted to emphasise. Often my children ask tangential questions that need a long answer (“Why can’t I get baptised now?”, “Why don’t I ever hear God speaking to me?”). I try to briefly answer, and provide fuller answers one-to-one with them, or in future family devotions.

Our attempts to sing have met with limited success. Our children each have their own favourite songs, and don’t take well to singing anyone else’s! They also insist on wildly running round the room while we sing, resulting in lots of accidents (or sulking if we ban it). Probably I need to select a repertoire of songs that we all know and like and choose one for each time.


I’d love to hear what you do with your families. What works well? I certainly don’t feel like I’ve arrived at an ideal model, but I am a bit more determined not to wimp out when it doesn’t seem to be going according to plan. I’m not saying that I will stubbornly persist with an idea when it is clearly not working, but I am not going to be so easily discouraged.

Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Deut 6:6-8 (CEV)